Every Writer’s Least Favorite Subject: Querying

And now for the post I wish I could have stumbled across on someone else’s blog some time early last fall:

Here, for your convenience, in one single, centralized location, I have gathered everything I learned over the three months (two in preparation, one in actual outreach) that I invested in seeking representation.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I can now happily say that I am one of the fortunate ones, having recently signed with a literary agent, and while luck no doubt played its role – so, I sincerely hope, did the quality of my work – none of it would have mattered if I hadn’t figured out whom to contact, and how to go about it. That is what this entry is about.  For those of you who are not writers yourselves, this may seem like something of a boring topic (unless of course you are the tinkering type who likes to understand how things work, in which case it may be of interest, and may even provide useful analogs to your own vocation/avocation), but for any aspiring authors in the audience… trust me, this piece may be a bit long, but it’s one you definitely want to read.

Before I discuss the hows of the process, however, let’s take a brief moment to talk about the whens.  At what point is it time to start looking for a literary agent?  The harsh truth of the matter is that if you’re a first-time novelist like myself, you shouldn’t even think about contacting agents until you have produced a finished manuscript.  And when I say that,

Timeline2witharrow
Where a novelist should be before commencing the querying process.  (By the way, I hope you don’t mind the repeated use of this graphic – just so you’re aware, given how long it took me to make the darn thing, I will be getting my money’s worth out of it…)

I mean a polished, beta-read, proofread, good-as-you-can-make-it, final draft of a book – no ifs, ands or buts.  To any of you who may be just starting out, this may sound like a bit of an undertaking.  And I hate to break it to you, but… it is.  If you don’t feel a true pull to begin working on a manuscript simply for its own sake, you should probably reconsider the idea.  Writing a novel is a long and arduous exercise even when you love the craft, and there is absolutely no guarantee you’ll receive any kind of reward at the end; as a consequence, if you don’t have a story inside bursting to come out, my advice is that you hold off on sitting down at the keyboard until you do.

Ah, but you are a fellow soul afflicted with that irresistible need, you say!

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